BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As a new year begins, many will take up running in the pursuit of living a healthier life. One Baton Rouge runner who goes to extremes for his love of running shared his philosophy that has allowed him to accomplish things most people believe to be impossible.
Walker Higgins participated in his third ultra-endurance race on December 9, 2017 in Houston, Texas at the Brazo Bend 100 Ultra Run.
An ultra-endurance run, or ultramarathon, is a run longer than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles.
Higgins, 35, says he started running for himself years ago, but it has become a confidence booster.
"I kind of got into it by chance when I was asked to join a fitness group at one of the gyms I worked in college. That fitness group turned into an outdoor fitness group, and then the group turned into running," said Higgins. "I completed my first 5k when I was about 24 years old and by 27 I did my first marathon and two years later did my first ultra, and from there it just kept growing."
A former soccer player, Higgins has always been accustomed to running for a long period of time, but taking on miles of trails is another thing.
In 2017 he was all set to compete in an ultra-endurance race in Arizona which runs 185 miles from Flagstaff to Tucson, Arizona.
To train for this race Higgins practiced on "The Beast" trail located in St. Francisville. Due to the different elevations, it is known as one of the toughest courses in Louisiana.
In 27 hours, Higgins ran 100 miles with the support of his friends and family in preparation for the April 2017 race. Unfortunately, the race did not happen because the race owners canceled it 30 days before it was scheduled.
However, his training didn't go to waste. The Brazos Bend 100 Miler in Houston is the fastest race in Texas and is 99.9% flat, according to Trail Racing Over Texas.
Higgins isn't the only Louisianan who took on this race. He says about 15 other runners from Baton Rouge and throughout the state competed in Houston.
Before hitting the pavement, Higgins took to Facebook to share his excitement about the race and to thank his big supporters.
"This year I've trained harder than ever thanks to the skills of Dr. Kasey Hill and Mark Fay at Moreau Physical Therapy and of course the support of my lovely wife Gabby Loubiere Higgins," said Higgins.
The first post after the race started with "Well, that was crazy hard."
Through his dedication and support system Higgins finished the race. He encourages others who are interested in running in races to go for it.
"[Running is] something you do for yourself, to set goals, and to find out what you are really made of," he said.
He also noted that it is a good way to train yourself for a healthy and active lifestyle.
Wondering where you should start? Higgins shared three top tips that will set you on the right course to run your first race whether it be a 5K or more.
Train appropriately for the actual terrain the race will be on. If there are a lot of hills race then train with a lot of hill work.
Mentally prepare to be in solitude for 20 plus hours and being able to stay positive and motivated to keep moving. "It is easy to listen to the dark side saying it is okay to stop, but you must be ready to combat that and stay positive."
Nutrition. You should have your nutrition down pat before running, and if you don't it will not be easy to digest food when running and the race can go sideways.
Higgins added that you should be ready for the worst-case scenario. "Be ready for the suck," said Higgins. "Because it is going to suck at one time and maybe a lot of times. Don't expect it to be roses and beauty"
"And don't talk yourself out of it!" added Higgins.
The next big race for runners here in Louisiana is the Louisiana Marathon scheduled for January 14, 2018. There is still time to register.